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New guidelines for the clinical management of febrile neutropenia and sepsis in pediatric oncology patients.

OBJECTIVES: To provide a foundation for the diagnostic, prophylactic and therapeutic management of febrile neutropenia and sepsis in children with oncological diseases, with special attention to new protocols and guidelines.

SOURCES: A review of the scientific literature utilizing an electronic bibliographic search on MEDLINE, Medscape, SciELO, Google, Cochrane and PubMED using the keywords febrile, neutropenic, cancer, children, sepsis, intensive, care. Articles published between 1987 and 2007 were selected, with preference given to review articles, protocols, systematic reviews, epidemiological studies, task force recommendations and phase III clinical trials. Consensus documents published by the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the Center for Diseases Control and the Infectious Diseases Working Party of the German Society of Hematology and Oncology, in addition to the recommendations of the World Federation of Pediatric Intensive and Critical Care Societies and Society of Critical Care Medicine, were also reviewed.

SUMMARY OF THE FINDINGS: The use of aggressive chemotherapy regimens, bone marrow transplantation and intensive care resources have increased the survival rates of children with cancer and also their infectious morbidity, with septic complications as the principal cause of mortality. Several risk factors have been identified, such as neutropenia, oncology type, clinical signs and inflammatory response markers (polymerase chain reaction, procalcitonin) and also increased resistance to antimicrobials and antifungal agents. Protocols for risk classification, diagnosis and treatment should be established at each service, taking into account the microbiological flora of each population. Pediatric intensive care has increased the short and long-term survival of these patients.

CONCLUSIONS: Oncology patients are particularly vulnerable to infectious complications. Early identification and treatment are fundamental to improving survival rates.

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